How To Measure Happiness

Happiness is elusive but it helps focus an individual with their life design if they consider what metrics contribute to happiness. These metrics might be in error, but at least they are something. The 6 measures, as explained by NPR’s “The Indicator” podcast, are:

These measures have been found to be highly correlated with people’s overall happiness. Of these measures social support and GDP per capita are the most important. But at some point, GDP per capita stops mattering; the Easterlin paradox. “It’s the idea that wealth adds to people’s happiness only up to a point. And at some point, for some reason, getting richer stops making you happier.” There are many working theories and here are some of the more prominent ones:

  • GDP per capita (a rough idea of how wealthy people are in a particular country),
  • healthy life expectancy,
  • how much people trust the government and businesses in their country (is corruption a problem in the government? In businesses?),
  • social support (do you have somebody to count on in times of trouble?),
  • generosity (has a person been generous in the last 30 days to others) and
  • freedom (did you feel a sense of freedom to make your key life decisions?).
  1. (India #141, China #94) Social support has declined even though GDP per capita is rising. Stuff like moving into cities, decline of the extended family.
  2. (USA #19) “People overestimate the happiness they’re going to get from more income or a bigger house. And they underestimate the happiness they would get from more time with the family and less time spent commuting. So, they end up finding themselves in circumstances where they’ve chosen to go for too high an income, too much consumption, not enough time to spend with family and friends. And they end up being anxious, harried, stressed.”
  3. It could just be that the measurements are wrong.

Regardless, the researcher shares that he’s changed his behaviour as a result of this research and recommends “…[T]o start conversations with strangers, to smile at people in the streets, to assume the best rather than the worst about them is a win-win situation. And so, I do it more than I used to. And that’s improved my happiness. And I hope it’s improved somebody else’s, as well. …”

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2019/04/08/711132741/how-to-measure-happiness

https://worldhappiness.report/

Canada is #9, Finland #1. Excel file with the data is here (“Chapter 2 – online data ‘Figure2.6’ worksheet):

https://s3.amazonaws.com/happiness-report/2019/Chapter2OnlineData.xls

Canada is just 6% behind Finland and USA is 12.72% behind (5.6% behind Canada). South Sudan, #156, is 272% behind Finland. Surprisingly Australia is at #11 with all it’s sunshine and most goods being locally sourced.

Easterlin Paradox:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easterlin_paradox

Plastic single use bags – the economics

Planet Money explains in “Are Plastic Bag Bans Garbage?

“…sales of garbage bags actually skyrocketed after plastic grocery bags were banned…So about 30% of the plastic that was eliminated by the ban comes back in the form of thicker garbage bags…. On top of that, cities that banned plastic bags saw a surge in the use of paper bags, which she estimates resulted in about 80 million pounds of extra paper trash per year. paper bags are actually worse for the environment. … They require cutting down and processing trees, which involves lots of water, toxic chemicals, fuel, and heavy machinery. … the huge increase of paper, together with the uptick in plastic trash bags, means banning plastic shopping bags increases greenhouse gas emissions. That said, these bans do reduce non-biodegradable litter.”

Organic cotton tote bags need to be used 20,000 times before its use is better than a plastic grocery bag. “…the best reusable ones are made from polyester or plastics like polypropylene. . Those still have to be used dozens and dozens of times to be greener than plastic grocery bags, which have the smallest carbon footprint for a single use.”

“As for bag policies, Taylor says a fee is smarter than a ban. She has a second paper showing a small fee for bags is just as effective as a ban when it comes to encouraging use of reusable bags. But a fee offers flexibility for people who reuse plastic bags for garbage disposal or dog walking. … The best policy, Taylor says, imposes a fee on both paper and plastic bags and encourages reuse.”

15Apr2019 update: Another economics podcast on plastic packaging (Cellophane). It presents the data and decisions that have made the modern plastic world and illustrates nicely the counter-intuitive conclusions that come up all the time in plastic packaging.
https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/w3csz2w3

“Bandwidth” and “Speed” – not the same thing

It’s terribly confusing that these terms are used interchangeably. Unfortunately, they don’t have much to do with each other. Bandwidth is the number of “lanes” available to your computer. It is typically measured in Megabits/second of Mbps or Gigabits/second or Gbps. Do the number of lanes affect the speed of your car? Typically no, unless it’s rush hour.

What matters is how fast you can drive right? That’s “latency” in the internet/networking world. It is dependent on a lot of different factors, including but not limited to, the speed of your computer, the speed of your network card, the speed/how busy your local modem/router is, the speed/how busy your local internet provider’s infrastructure is and then all these factors on the other end of the connection as well. The “bottleneck” in the equation defines your latency at that particular time to whatever particular service.

So how do your measure your internet connection? Well, take those “bandwidth” sites with a grain of salt – they are best for measuring the bandwidth received to match up with the internet plan your paying for. The best measurement test I’ve found to determine “quality of experience” is the Cisco Webex Network test: https://mediatest.webex.com.

It measures a bunch of different things for a video call, which is the most demanding application for most people. If you get all green, then you’re in good shape. It means you could run all applications from that location without issues (as long as the opposite party doesn’t have a bad connection of course).

Check out my own article on how to improve “speeds”: https://textor.ca/2015/03/forget-a-bandwidth-upgrade-try-these-4-things-to-make-the-home-internet-experience-better/

Others have written on this subject – try here for another spin on this subject: https://accucode.com/bandwidth-vs-speed-which-is-more-important-2/

“Canadians paid more than $1.2 billion in wireless data overage fees last year”

https://business.financialpost.com/telecom/canadians-paid-more-than-1-2-billion-in-wireless-data-overage-fees-last-year

What can you do about it? Android users can install a no-root firewall called “NetGuard”. I’m not sure if Apple users can do anything. I did a quick search and nothing came up.

If you’re not too technical, use my NetGuard import file (link below) to auto-configure the app for you. I had to troubleshoot some google system apps to make it run seamlessly. The app works basically by stopping anything from using your data plan unless you say so. You can set apps up to not use data unless you are actually using them as well (screen is on and actively interacting with it). It’s pretty slick. We use about 200MB a month just by using this app. We still get maps/GPS, email, etc. Things we try to avoid doing while on data is using a web browser and video. That doesn’t mean we don’t watch videos. We just indicate that the video is downloaded for offline viewing only while on Wifi (you can do this with Netflix and Plex).

NetGuard link: https://www.netguard.me/
Link to import file: netguard_20181128 – Download to a desktop/laptop and unzip this file with password “1234” (due to wordpress security it doesn’t allow .xml files so using password zip to get around this). Then transfer this file to your phone (e.g. maybe by emailing or certainly via USB transfer).

“A Christmas Carol” – The Economics Behind It

Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol was an attack on some of the then big minds of the “political economy” movement (now called Behavioural Economics). So ya, it was an economics novella. How cool is that!? Planet Money covers the economic history behind the famous yearly tradition.

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/12/21/679213648/episode-883-a-very-planet-money-christmas-carol

Most of Alberta and Saskatchewan are at high risk of dangerous radon levels

Our radon mitigation is complete! We went from 435 Bq/m3 to 22 Bq/m3.
 
150 Bq/m3 is equivalent to smoking a half pack of cigarettes/day or if a person smokes already multiplies that smoking risk by 14 times. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer. 100 Bq/m3 is world health organization limit, 200 Bq/m3 is Health Canada and 15 Bq/m3 is what is prevalent outdoors (normal radon levels). 1 in 6 homes tested in 2017 had dangerous levels of radon gas (over 200). Most of Alberta and Saskatchewan are at high risk of high radon levels.
 
Forced air systems just move it all around the house and “leaky” house doesn’t really help (it’s the pressure pull of heating a space that is the issue); a house either has high levels or it doesn’t. Even our garage (no basement) was at 150 Bq/m3 and it’s as leaky as it gets. The mitigation process seals all the basement large open holes and helps mitigate basement smell (since it’s sucking all the moist earthy air below the cement and blowing it out the side). 
 
Thanks to Radon West. This company is also the one helping with the UofC radon study. Learn more here:
Note: In Canada we side-wall vent. Rooftop vents ice up in our cold weather. Canadian studies on dissipation is that within a meter of the vent the radon reading is at normal outside levels; Meaning it dissipates extremely quickly. 
More on risks of dying from lung cancer, radon and smoking:
Radon meter I purchased; Radon West confirms it is very accurate for a residential unit. A +/-10% reading is available from it within 7 days. Our unit is loaned out to friends and family pretty much constantly.
Corentium Home by Airthings, Radon Gas Detector, Canadian Version in Bq/m
UofC Calgary study (home owners may be able to get testing for free):

Planet Money Talks Trade Wars And The Batman Problem

https://blog.forumias.com/protectionism-and-trade-war/Instead of a trade-war which impacts the global economy and hurts everybody, why not just use anti-currency manipulation to address the trade deficit? As explained by Planet Money’s “indicator” podcast it’s practically free. What it doesn’t do is buy politicians votes… The world economy just might be suffering in order for a politician to get re-elected…

https://www.npr.org/sections/money/2018/07/18/630265851/trade-wars-and-the-batman-problem

Published in Reader’s Digest “11 Hidden Reasons Your Internet Is So Slow”

Yes, the Reader’s Digest. Access their article here:

11 Hidden Reasons Your Internet Is So Slow (Oct 1, 2018)

They quoted a popular post I wrote in 2015:

Forget a bandwidth upgrade! Try these 4 things to make the home internet experience better

 

The secret to clean laundry in hard water cities and/or families with kids

Is washing soda! If you have super dirty laundry (kids), hard water or both, add extra washing soda. We add about a cup to our loads. No more of that stinky moldy smell with kitchen clothes either, and we use bleach WAY less.

 

 

About:

https://www.thespruce.com/what-is-washing-soda-2145888

What we buy:

https://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01BOM9OE0/